When was the last time you had to circle back home for a vital piece of the day you left at home? How irritated were you?
Some believe that there are no coincidences, that everything happens for a reason. I don’t know what Earl Melchert believed before Sept. 5, but I bet he’ll never grumble about such an error again.
Melchert had returned to his home in Barrett, Minnesota mid-day to pick up the diesel can he’d intended to fill up on the way home from work. In the distance, he spied what he thought was a deer, but as it ran closer, he realized it was a person!
The deer turned out to be a terrified 15-year-old girl by the name of Jasmine Block. She was soaking wet and anxious to take refuge inside Melchert’s truck.
Melcher, however, recognized the girl instantly. He’d seen her face on the news, on flyers, and plastered across the internet. Block had been missing from her Alexandria, Minnesota home since Aug. 9.
According to Block, on that night Jay Baker, the 32-year-old father of her friend, came to her home late at night soliciting her help with his son. Block got into his truck and accompanied Barker to his house in Carlos, Minnesota.
Once there, Block was restrained with zip ties. For 29 days, Baker, along with his two friends Jason Lee Holby, 31, and Michael Samuel Powers, 21, kept and sexually assaulted her. They repeatedly moved her to different locations.
Block told investigators that Baker tried to kill her on three occasions, once by trying to drown her in the bathtub, though he lacked the needed strength due to his cerebral palsy. On Sept. 5, two of the men were transporting Block in a duffel back in the back of a pick-up truck.
When the two went inside a convenience store, Block saw her opportunity and made a dash for it. When she was not successful finding help in nearby houses, she swam across a lake reaching land near Melchert’s home.
Block’s captors were actively looking for her, hence her desperation to get inside Melchert’s truck. She pointed them out as Melchert called 911, and again when the police arrived, which ultimately led to the arrest of all three presumed captors.
Powers has confessed to spending two weeks at Baker’s residence and engaging in sexual conduct with the child. Baker, on the other hand, admits to heavy drug and alcohol use but refutes any accusations of acquaintance with Block, including picking her up and holding her captive.
For Melchert’s efforts, the Alexandria Police Department presented the reward money offered to anyone who assisted in Block’s return. The $7,000 appreciation was put up by Block’s family and an anonymous donor.
Melchert, who just retired last week, surprised everyone when he smile, turned, and immediately handed the check to Block and gave her a big hug. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” Melchert told the New York Times. “What a retirement present, to hand over some money to people that really need it.”
If Melchert hadn’t left his diesel can, he wouldn’t have been home to save Block’s life. The next time I have to double back in my day, instead of being frustrated, I’ll have to ask myself how this fits into a bigger picture.